MPs call for new Environmental Protection Act, caution against 'zombie legislation' after Brexit

The Environmental Audit Committee has published a report on the 'Future of the Natural Environment after the EU referendum', which calls on Government to commit to a new Environmental Protection Act to ensure that environmental protections are maintained in UK law after the country leaves the EU. 

The report notes that, although the government has pledged to pass a Great Repeal Bill to retain European legislation after Brexit, there still remains a risk that some pieces of environmental legislation could be eroded without the legislative protections afforded by the EU. This so-called ‘zombie legislation’ describes EU legislation transposed into UK law which is no longer updated and which can be eroded through statutory instruments with minimal parliamentary scrutiny. 

The MPs argue that a new Environmental Protection Act would help avoid the risk of zombie legislation by providing safeguards to ensure that existing EU environmental law is not weakened once the UK leaves the EU.

Speaking at our Brexit event on waste and resource policy last month, EAC chair Mary Creagh MP expressed her concerns over the status of waste legislation post-Brexit.

"We have questions about whether the Waste Framework Directive will continue to apply. What we are getting to in all these debates is the complex and messy part about directives. What has been revealed to us in the course of this report is between a quarter and a third of legislation cannot be neatly incorporated. That is where we need to focus our attention. What we don’t want to end up with is 40 years of EU law which turns into zombie legislation."